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LATEST REVIEWS
FATAL ENCOUNTER, THE
"If you've ever wondered what '24' would be like in Joseon-era Korea..."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Palace intrigue stories, no matter what the culture, tend to develop over time, playing out in subtle ways requiring either inner monologues or exposition that doesn't necessarily fit well into a movie. There are good ones, but it's a little curious that more don't take the tack that writer Choi Sung-hyun and director Lee Jae-kyu take with "The Fatal Encounter": It dramatizes what could be the final day in a young king's reign, as all the plans are coming to a head." (more)
NO TEARS FOR THE DEAD
"Big action that doesn't pull any of its punches."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Lee Jeong-beom's last film as director was "The Man from Nowhere", an action thriller spectacular enough that I've spotted people who usually don't like their movies with subtitles telling other folks that they've got to see it. Lee stays on that same path in "No Tears for the Dead", another movie that combines spectacular action with a brutal story to fine effect, and which should also find fans among those who don't necessarily pay much attention to what comes out of South Korea." (more)
IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE
"Revenge as deadpan comedy."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Where is the exact line between a movie being a darkly funny revenge story and a full-on, pitch-black dark comedy? In the case of "In Order of Disappearance", I think it is crossed early on in a gag that will recur throughout the movie, although it may seem to waver back and forth as the story unfolds. By the time it's over, though, this reunion of the team behind "A Somewhat Gentle Man" has produced something that is both darker and funnier than that impressive movie." (more)
CHEATIN'
"Another good reason for Bill Plympton fans to remain loyal to the man."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Cheatin'" is the new Bill Plympton movie, his first feature since 2008's "Idiots and Angels", and it's a fine demonstration that over thirty years as an independent animator, he hasn't dulled his edge much while carving out his niche. It's funny, strange past the point of eccentric, and has a style that is unmistakable for anyone else. Longtime fans should be pleased; and it wouldn't be a particular surprise if showing it to friends created new fans." (more)
WHITE BIRD IN A BLIZZARD
"Does many things well but leaves me cold."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: I saw "White Bird in a Blizzard" referred to as a coming of age movie, and I don't necessarily think that designation fits. Not every drama where the characters haven't graduated from high school yet needs that label; sometimes bad things just happen when teenagers are around. That's sort of what happens here, and it's why a movie that's very strong in some ways, but is oddly hands-off enough in others that it's not quite as good as the surface suggests it should be." (more)
HWAYI: A MONSTER BOY
"Training a stolen kid to follow in your footsteps is asking for trouble."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: A little over ten years ago, director Jang Joon-hwan made a good-sized splash with a film by the name of "Save the Green Planet", but after that, barely a peep. He certainly seems to have come back to the Korean movie scene in style with "Hwayi: A Monster Boy", which shows a little rust - but not when the time for action comes." (more)
BUTTER ON THE LATCH
"I did not want the main characters to be eaten by bears. That's something."
2 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Butter on the Latch" was listed in the program as playing before director Josephine Decker's prior film, "Thou Wast Mild and Lovely", as if it was a short film rather than a 63-minute feature. The programmers and projectionists mercifully flipped the order; I can only imagine how the audience might have revolted if this had played first. The properties that make it not a very good movie would have made it even more of an endurance test if the audience was sitting through the whole thing to get to the film whose name actually appears on the ticket." (more)
THOU WAST MILD AND LOVELY
"Sometimes the line between 'striking' and 'bizarre' is thin. Not this time."
3 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Before Joesphine Decker's "Thou Wast Mild and Lovely" starts to be a weird, creepy sort of movie in a way that has real certainty and direction, it's got two scenes that kind of warn the audience what it's getting into. In the first, farmer Jeremiah (Robert Longstreet) and his daughter Sarah (Sophie Traub) are rolling around in the grass, throwing a headless chicken back and forth, getting blood all over their clothes. In the second, Sarah narrates, describing a strange, ethereal, perfect lover while the camera slowly zooms in on her increasingly agitated dog. Decker quickly moves on to other things, and maybe I'm reading things into that latter juxtaposition that aren't meant, but even if that's the case, what the hell is the deal with everything else?" (more)
BOYHOOD
"A masterwork 12 years in the making."
5 stars
Brett Gallman says... "I was 18 and on the verge of my high school graduation when Richard Linklater started production on “Boyhood,” which is coincidentally where the film leaves its subject, Mason (Ellar Coltrane). By that time, we’ve watched twelve years of his life unfold over the course of 160 minutes, and it’s not the profound changes that amaze so much as Linklater’s ability to capture the authenticity of this moment: the excitement, the anxiety, the sheer relief of having made it through childhood and adolescence relatively unscathed. All of this resonated within me even with the distance of the twelve years I experienced since 2002—perhaps, more than anything, “Boyhood” is a reminder that life is sometimes just about finding a place where you can simply be okay even after being presented evidence that things won’t always be okay." (more)
SUSPECT, THE
"A decent movie around one hell of a car chase."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Like a lot of action pictures, "The Suspect" occasionally has too much going on could sometimes benefit from a little more clarity in its presentation. The good news is that those moments when the plot is convoluted and the camera just won't stay still are generally made up for when things lock in for a truly impressive chase." (more)

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